A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 13
(the real meaning) = A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials,
where authority is divided among several managers and/or departments.
Bureaucracies have come to
be associated with “waste, confusion, red tape, and rigidity.” We blame many of our problems on “the
bureaucracy.” But in actuality, many of the problems are a result of the actions of Congress, the courts, and
Distinctiveness of the American Bureaucracy
Bureaucratic government is a part of all modern societies. However, the United States has three
aspects of constitutional system and political traditions that make it distinctive.
Political authority over the bureaucracy is shared among several institutions rather than
placed into one set of hands. This contrasts with systems such as the British one, where
the prime minister rules supreme (in theory).
Most agencies of the federal government share functions with related agencies in state and
local government. This contrasts with systems present in places like France, where the
things like education, health, housing, etc. are centralized, with little or no local control.
American institutions and traditions have given rise to an “adversary culture,” one where
personal rights are given central importance. In other words, we argue more with every
decision made by the government. However, in Sweden, similar decisions go largely
Also, the scope of the United States government differs from most others. Many European
governments own companies that make automobiles and tobacco. Here, however, we are
regulated to an extent not found in other countries. We choose regulation over ownership.
The Growth of Bureaucracy
The gov’t didn’t really start out as a bureaucracy. The Constitution makes no provisions for such a
The center of power that came to be the bureaucracy was first seen in the first Congress in 1789.
introduced a bill to create a
Department of State
to assist the
Secretary of State
in carrying out duties. What’s important is that the people appointed to the department were
nominated by the President and approved by Senate, but they were “to be removable by the
president” alone. A big debate started about whether or not the president should be given the sole
power to fire subordinates.